Caution: This post suggests mistreatment of a child.
I ENTERED THE STORE and heard a child crying. It came from way over on the opposite side of the store, but I heard it loud and clear.
The closer I got to the department I needed, the louder the crying got. Finally I came around a corner and saw a little girl, maybe 18 months old, red-eyed, tears streaming down her cheeks. A young woman was browsing through racks close by.
When the little girl saw me, it startled her slightly and broke her crying jag. I smiled and gave her a little wave. She stared at me. I walked more slowly. Her eyes followed me. I was tempted to stop or speak to her, but I didn’t want to freak out the mother….or the child by approaching or lingering.
I passed by them. When I moved beyond the girl’s view, she started crying again. I was about to turn and go back, but just then the woman yelled, “Stop it!” I heard a smack and then the child crying even harder than before.
In that moment, I was completely paralyzed.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but I left the store. Quickly. Sure, in the hours since, I’ve thought of several things I might have done, but in the moment, it was paralyzing.
What would have been the thing to do?
What if we all run?